After a five-year hiatus, Sherry Gamlin is ready to make Sunnyside a hub for local and international filmmakers to debut their work.
The Sunnyside Shorts Film Festival was started in 2001 by a student from Hunter College who lived in the neighborhood. He moved back home to Japan and in 2007, Gamlin transitioned from being a volunteer to running the festival with friends.
Gamlin, who has lived in Sunnyside since 1975, was a “struggling actress” who did extra work in movies, plays in New York and Los Angeles and regional theater. Her primary job was working in advertising for Time Magazine and Businessweek.
She put the festival on hold when her mother got sick and Gamlin moved to Florida for three years to take care of her.
This year’s festival, which takes place on Oct. 7 through Oct. 8, will include 26 short films ranging from documentaries, comedies, dramas and a special block of 14 films for children.
“I hope everybody comes and enjoys the films and gets a lot out of it,” Gamlin said. “There are some very funny films, some interesting, amazing documentaries and some great animated films not only for the kids.”
Gamlin and six other judges combed through 1,255 submissions from all over the world. The festival doesn’t charge filmmakers for submissions, which explains why there were so many submissions, according to Gamlin.
“I know independent filmmakers aren’t the wealthiest people in the world,” Gamlin said. “They’re not all Steven Spielberg. Also, we’re in New York City, which is a big attraction.”
She uses a website called FilmFreeway to request films and compile submissions, which is a departure from previous years when Gamlin would receive DVD submissions and watch them on her television.
Judges critiqued the quality of the film, acting, directing, the script and storyline. From those choices, Gamlin whittled them down to create a variety in genre, country where the filmmakers are based and run time. The films run from 1 minute to 20 minutes.
There are films from Sunnyside, Brooklyn, Manhattan and countries such as Greece, France and Ireland.
“We are a very multicultural community, and a good way of bringing cultures together — which is our mission statement — is the art of filmmaking,” Gamlin said. “So we might have an audience of Irish, French, German, Latino and we’ll have films from all these countries.”
The festival is free but a suggested donation of $10 will keep the festival running for years to come, Gamlin said. Next year, Gamlin, along with Bryan and Ashley Brinkman who designed the graphics and website for the festival, will look for sponsors.
Pastor Neil Margetson of the Sunnyside Reformed Church at 48-03 Skillman Ave. has offered his space for free. On Oct. 7, the 14 films will begin screening at 7 p.m. with a Q&A session with directors and actors.
On Oct. 8 from 1 to 3 p.m., 14 short films catering to children will be screened and the evening adult film series will take place at 7 p.m.
For a full list of films, visit the Sunnyside Shorts Film Festival website.